Community Capital: Race, Equity, and the Credit Union Movement

Clifford N. Rosenthal and Michael McCray

Publisher: American Banner Books Pages: 408 Price: (paperback) $24.99 ISBN: 9780984690633 Reviewed: July, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

Longtime advocate and spokesperson for credit unions and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) Clifford N. Rosenthal and advisor and official of the Kappa Alpha Psi Federal Credit Union Michael McCray team up in this absorbing, eye-opening book, describing the rise and importance of community capital organizations in black communities.

Credit unions and CDFIs were introduced at the beginning of the 20th century to serve working people who were underserved—or not served at all—by traditional banks. These not-for-profit institutions sowed profits into lower fees and improved services for members, rather than enriching shareholders.

In the book’s first section, Rosenthal recounts his multi-decade campaign to “rebuild a marginalized movement of low-income, predominantly non-white credit unions.”

The second section covers McCray’s work with the Kappa Alpha Psi Federal Credit Union, an organization associated with a historically black fraternity, as it battled federal regulators of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) after the latter seized and liquidated their assets without warning in 2010. This was one of many liquidations and mergers contributing to the decline of this critical resource for communities of color. McCray was a whistleblower who brought the racism inherent in these actions to light.

This confluence of characters is intriguing: Rosenthal is a white man leading mostly non-white organizations; McCray is a black man who went up against “the white man’s world.” Framing this history—and emphasizing the importance of these institutions —through their own careers could have felt self-serving, but instead gives the story life and color. For example, McCray describes the players of various meetings (“The director… has droopy eyes with a double chin and a collar slightly too tight for his neck”) and recounts vivid dialogue (“’What do you mean, they liquidated us?’” I asked… ‘Look Mac, they are at the mutha f*cking office right now!’ Victor said, ‘What can we do?’’).

In sum, readers interested in both finance and social justice will be delighted at this lively telling.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Pine Bluff, Arizona
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